Everything You Need to Know About Dandruff


I’ve saved Head & Shoulders in my haircare rotation since highschool. It’s not one thing I exploit day by day, but it surely’s what I fall again on each time I discover tiny flakes upon parting my hair after a bathe. It really works effectively sufficient, however I’ve by no means actually understood why I received dandruff within the first place, nor whether or not merely “protecting it at bay” was the correct method. In accordance with the Nationwide Institute of Well being, I’m not alone: almost half of adults endure from some type of dandruff.

In case you rely your self amongst these numbers and, like me, have been coping with it quietly and to blended outcomes, learn on for the official expert-consulted rundown.

What even is dandruff?

Dr. Debra Jaliman, board-certified dermatologist and Assistant Professor of Dermatology at New York’s Icahn College of Medication at Mount Sinai, says dandruff occurs when the pores and skin isn’t exfoliating correctly and lifeless pores and skin will get caught on the scalp and begins to flake and itch.

“It may be genetic or environmental,” Jaliman says, however has nothing to do with poor hygiene! “It’s an actual pores and skin situation. Nonetheless, it’s very treatable so nothing to fret about.”

Dandruff is the frequent identify for seborrheic dermatitis on the scalp, a situation that causes crimson, flaky and itchy pores and skin because of an excessive amount of yeast that’s current on oily areas of the pores and skin. The one distinction is that dandruff is restricted to the scalp, whereas seborrheic dermatitis can have an effect on different areas, just like the T-zone, and sometimes causes irritation. “It’s characterised by wonderful greasy, flaky scale that’s usually accompanied by itch and underlying pores and skin redness,” says dermatologist Shereene Idriss of Union Sq. Laser Dermatology.

What causes it?

Right here’s the way it works: A yeast-like fungus referred to as malassezia globosa feeds in your scalp oils, says Rebecca Lee, a nurse and founding father of the pure well being useful resource, RemediesForMe.com. “As these fungi feed on the oils by utilizing enzymes, it creates oleic acid which seeps into the scalp and causes your pores and skin to shed.”

In different phrases, it’s not brought on by dry pores and skin, an excessive amount of or too little oil, or the frequency of your showers. The truth is, researchers are nonetheless not fully positive what causes dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis. “Though the precise trigger remains to be unknown, [seborrheic dermatitis]is believed to be an irregular immune response to a quite common yeast that goes unnoticed on most individuals, referred to as Pityrosporum,” Idriss says.

A observe about dandruff: A flaky scalp doesn’t essential imply dandruff. Flakiness not associated to seborrheic dermatitis can be psoriasis, fungal infections of the scalp or eczema.

Why deal with it?

If it’s so frequent, why do we have to deal with it in any respect? Properly, apart from the embarrassing indisputable fact that it makes us wish to always scratch our heads and that it may be noticeable when carrying your favourite dark-colored T-shirt, “there isn’t a definitive treatment for dandruff. It’s a long-term, continual situation that can come and go over time,” Idriss says. That is why it’s necessary to know the indicators of dandruff and the right way to deal with it correctly.

Moreover, Lee says, dandruff can truly block the hair follicles and forestall new hairs from rising, inflicting thinning.

How do you deal with it?

Medicated shampoo

Whereas shampooing commonly can assist to cut back signs of dandruff, it received’t actually remedy the underlying issues or get rid of the flakes altogether. That’s why there’s an enormous marketplace for dandruff shampoos — folks spend about $300 million annually on dandruff remedy merchandise.

Search for shampoos that comprise zinc pyrithione, selenium disulfide, sulfur, salicylic acid, ketoconazole and tar. Jaliman says they’re all components identified to be efficient towards dandruff and flaky scalps. (Zinc pyrithione is the important thing ingredient in Head & Shoulders, which is why it really works.)

Idriss says she often recommends sufferers begin with Nizoral shampoo, because it comprises 1% ketoconazole, an ingredient that’s a notch beneath the prescription-strength antifungal that’s often prescribed. “Alternating this with both selenium sulfide shampoo, corresponding to Selsun Blue, or tar shampoos, corresponding to Neutrogena T/Gel, will enhance the efficacy over time,” she says. (Bear in mind that you may’t use tar shampoos when you’ve got blonde hair as it could possibly trigger discoloration.)

Dr. Cynthia Bailey recommends a 2% pyrithione zinc remedy, like her Foaming Zinc Cleanser that can be utilized on the scalp and physique. Earlier than shampooing, attempt making use of heat coconut oil for 30 minutes to take away thick buildup. Then therapeutic massage your shampoo into your scalp. Provides Idriss: In case your dandruff is thicker and sticks to your scalp, shampoos with salicylic acid, like Neutrogena T/sal, can assist loosen up thick buildup to make it simpler to deal with the precise yeast beneath.

Wash usually

In case you don’t wish to use considered one of these components, “shampooing every day helps even with out medicated shampoos,” Bailey says. On the very least, attempt washing a minimum of each different day, leaving the shampoo in your scalp for 5 minutes. These steps are significantly necessary in the course of the winter, as a result of chilly climate can worsen seborrheic dermatitis can worsen, inflicting extra dandruff, Idriss says.

At-home remedies

Lee, a proponent of pure cures, says you there’s additionally a spread of at-home remedy choices. Uncooked honey, for instance, “is nice for hair progress and eliminating dandruff… One research reveals aid from itchiness, scaling, pores and skin lesions and dandruff inside two weeks. Members had been requested to rub diluted honey onto their scalp every day for 3 hours. After two weeks, upkeep was solely wanted as soon as every week.”

Apple cider vinegar, which balances the pH of your scalp, can be used. The pH neutralization makes it onerous for yeast infections, micro organism and different fungi to develop.

Idriss notes pure, at-home cures aren’t at all times cheaper since there are a lot of, many drugstore choices now obtainable.

When is it time to see a physician?

“Strive utilizing a couple of completely different dwelling cures (shampoos, masks, exfoliants, important oils) earlier than visiting a dermatologist,” Lee says. However if you happen to’ve used a couple of completely different merchandise, together with over-the-counter medicated shampoos, for months with out seeing any enhancements (or if you happen to occur to note redness, swelling, a bleeding scalp or sudden hair loss), it’s time to make an appointment. A dermatologist can assist you pinpoint the underlying reason for your dandruff and prescribe a simpler remedy.

Ideas for sustaining a wholesome scalp

Dandruff shouldn’t be the one cause to concentrate to your scalp well being. “A wholesome scalp is one that isn’t uncared for. Day by day hair brushing, ranging from the roots and scalp, is important to advertise wholesome scalp circulation,” Idriss says.

She recommends washing your hair a minimum of two or thrice every week with a purpose to keep away from oil and product buildup. While you wash, therapeutic massage your scalp, and make sure you restrict conditioner to the guidelines of your hair. “In case you do have dandruff and are shedding hair, it’s necessary that you just not worry washing your hair. It’s regular to lose as much as 100 hairs a day, so don’t fret if you happen to discover hair on the ground of your tub after washing,” Idriss says.

Lee additionally recommends utilizing a clarifying shampoo as soon as a month and consuming a lot of protein from wholesome sources, like eggs, salmon, beef, shrimp, pumpkin seeds and cottage cheese.

Do you endure from dandruff? What has or hasn’t labored?

Illustrations by Amber Vittoria; comply with her on Instagram @amber_vittoria.


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